Reading about the cases of Drs. Imad Hammada and Murad Abu-Khalaf עברית — both of whom have had their East Jerusalem residency revoked while residing abroad — got me to thinking: None of us should get too smug about our right to live here. As long as our Interior Ministry is headed by ayatollahs, who run it in their typical capricious, draconian manner, it can turn on any one of us any day. Take my own case, for instance:
When I came on aliya, I don’t recall having to submit any proof that I’m Jewish. The shlicha asked for neither my mother’s ketuba nor a brisket receipt from my great-grandmother’s kosher butcher in Grodno. Ditto for the state rabbi who officiated at our wedding. However, according to what I hear and read about most other immigrants, my experience is exceptional.
Supposing in the same way that some rabbi decided to investigate further and revoke hundreds of conversions, a rabbi who didn’t have anything better to do that day decided to look into my Jewish pedigree. While no one would blink before attesting to the fact that I’m Jewish, I actually have no way of proving it. And neither do any of us. Ten years into the 21st century, we Jews have got to come to grips with the new reality; we’ve got to let go of the fantasy called “the unity of the Jewish people”. Not only is it impossible to prove that someone’s Jewish, it’s impossible to prove that someone isn’t. Not only do we need to admit this, but we need to come to grips with the implications thereof:
· Israel has become a desirable destination for the have-nots of the world, whether they hail from the former USSR, Africa, or elsewhere.
· Because thousands are knocking at our door, the Law of Return must be revoked and replaced with an immigration policy, as strict or as lax as we wish.
· The above entails (to paraphrase Carlo Strenger עברית) the state severing its ties to all religious institutions, and becoming completely secular, along the French or U.S. model. Both Jews and Muslims would have to accept that the state cannot play any role in affairs of religion, and religious institutions would become completely voluntary and communitarian.
These three are not only intertwined, they’re inevitable; the only alternative is a theocracy. The fact that any Jew has the power to certify the kashrut of any other Jew -- unless granted such power by the Jew in question (i.e., you’re a willing follower of a particular rabbi) -- should be setting off alarms for us all. I call on every Jew reading this to “take back the brit”: Don’t submit your pedigree for inspection; don’t hand over authority to any entity to whose views you don’t subscribe. Don’t sign over your “power of Jewish attorney”.